From the Salon to the Schoolroom

Educating Bourgeois Girls in Nineteenth-Century France

By (author) Rebecca Rogers

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 February 2008

Length of book:

352 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271024912

How a nation educates its children tells us much about the values of its people. From the Salon to the Schoolroom examines the emerging secondary school system for girls in nineteenth-century France and uncovers how that system contributed to the fashioning of the French bourgeois woman.

Rebecca Rogers explores the variety of schools—religious and lay—that existed for girls and paints portraits of the women who ran them and the girls who attended them. Drawing upon a wide array of public and private sources—school programs, prescriptive literature, inspection reports, diaries, and letters—she reveals the complexity of the female educational experience as the schoolroom gradually replaced the salon as the site of French women’s special source of influence.

From the Salon to the Schoolroom also shows how France as part of its civilizing mission transplanted its educational vision to other settings: the colonies in Africa as well as throughout the Western world, including England and the United States. Historians are aware of the widespread ramifications of Jesuit education, but Rogers shows how French education for girls played into the cross-cultural interactions of modern society, producing an image of the Frenchwoman that continues to tantalize and fascinate the Western world today.

From the Salon to the Schoolroom makes an important and original contribution to the literature on France and French women. Rogers shows that girls’ education was not so much about girls as about women and the role presumed proper for them. It was about the family and the hopes and anxieties that French men and women placed on the family to reconstruct the nation in the post-Napoleonic era. It was also about men and men’s roles in public and private life; about nation and nationalism; and about race and the ‘civilizing mission.’”

—Claire G. Moses, University of Maryland